Slumberland, Netflix’s latest spectacle, takes a grieving little girl on an adventure within her dreams. It’s the kind of distraction that both kids and adults could use, especially when the holiday season is upon us. Starring Marlow Barkley as Nemo and Jason Mamoa as Flip, the movie is based on Winsor McCay’s ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips, with the gender-swap and steampunk updates inserted for good measure.
The fantasy adventure takes the cues of dreams; a Maryland and a date with an unreasonable unhinged Jason Mamoa. The duo embarks on a search that serves their separate purposes, but along the way, they come to more pertinent realizations that send the movie spinning wildly.
If you happen to like Slumberland on Netflix, here are 6 other movies that you might wanna check out:
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
A classic fantasy like none other, The Wizard of Oz is like a litmus test for modern-day adventures that take you to a different realm. Slumberland may not pass that test due to annoyance with staying true to the Netflix audience, but elements here make its portal-like-dreamy adventure feel similar.
Following the life of Dorothy Gale, who lives on a Kansas farm owned by her uncle and aunty, The Wizard of Oz takes a turn into meshing dreams and reality when a tornado arrives. Dorothy wakes up in Muchkinland and must find a way to reach the wizard. On the way, she befriends four fellows who lack something in their respective lives and thus take the adventure with her.
Thematically speaking, the film has a lot of underpinnings that will help young kids deal with the situations they are put in, and rightfully so; it is a movie that is a great replacement for Disney musicals that often end up saying nothing at all. But for now, it is also a great companion piece to Netflix’s Slumberland.
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2. Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Talking about movies similar to Slumberland, there’s no way one can’t think of the 2007 Disney film Bridge to Terabithia. Directed by Gábor Csupó and written by David L. Paterson and Jeff Stockwell, the film follows two 11-year-old neighbors named Jess & Leslie, with personal problems at home striking a friendship with each other. In order to escape the bullying at school and the situation back home, the two of them decide to take a stroll and end up in the fantasy world of Terabithia – a kingdom that is just by the stream near their homes.
Much like Slumberland, Bridge to Terabithia is thematically rich. It is also a portrayal of love & loss and how imagination often helps us cope with it. Like Nemo, the two kids in Bridge to Terabithia know tragedy, and in the midst of their search for something, these outcasts grow up and understand themselves better.
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
It will be 17 years since The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was first unleashed into movie theatres, but the kind of cultural impact it has had over young minds still remains afresh. Of course, the movie, which is based on beloved books by C. S. Lewis, talks about courage, destiny, and leading into a fantasy world, in order to escape the atrocities of the real one; it also feels like a high-fantasy adventure that involves meeting and greeting new characters, whilst finding the right path to follow.
Much like Slumberland on Netflix, the first Chronicles of Narnia movie follows the Pevensie siblings and their discovery that their wardrobe is, in fact, a portal to the world of Narnia, where creatures are cursed by The White Witch to have eternal winters. The children must thus band up with the Lion and the others to defeat and free the habitant of Narnia.
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4. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
One can’t talk about the best movies that carefully draw a diversion between fantasy and reality without talking about Guillermo del Toro’s Mexican-fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth. At once a movie that feels like a dream, and also one that takes up real-world issues head-on, with a dark fairytale that doesn’t shy away from showing the real, Pan’s Labyrinth is about ten-year-old Ofelia and her discovery of a mysterious labyrinth that is the laying ground of a Faun who assumes her to be Princess Moanna, the immortal being of the Underworld.
Like Slumberland, Pan’s Labyrinth is a tale of a child growing out of her tragedy by finding solace and engagement in a fantasy world. The creatures in del Toro’s movie, of course, represent a million different things and are more subtle and well-developed than the ones in Slumberland, but the two films are eerily similar because their fantasy world and the world of good and evil somehow coincide.
5. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A live-action adaptation and re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s works, Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland is colorful to really put an adjective to define it. Much like Slumberland, which heavily borrows from the world-building of Wonderland, along with the Mad-hatter traits to be found in Jason Mamoa’s Flip, Burton’s film is about a 19-year-old girl named Alice who accidentally falls down a rabbit hole only to find herself in an Underworld with weird little characters.
Like Slumberland, Alice in Wonderland is full of interesting characters that Alice stumbles on when in the other world. Both movies are portal fantasies that take the idea of dreams, reality, and fantasy very seriously. It also helps that Depp’s Mad-Hatter is a whole lot of fun.
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6. The BFG (2016)
The last film on the list is Steven Spielberg’s The BFG. Based on Roald Dahl’s 1982 novel of the same name, the movie stars Mark Rylance as the “Big Friendly Giant.” Following a 10-year-old orphaned girl named Sophie, who becomes an acquaintance of the giant, the story is about the two teaming up and stopping the man-eating giants of the Giant Country when they start invading the human world.
Like Slumberland, The BFG is one of those movies that carefully balances its protagonist’s reality with her adventure in the fantasy world. Both movies are also about children who have lost their parents and have no right path to deal with what life throws at them. Thus, finding solace in fantasy is their only hope.